It’s easy to forget that more than a decade ago, when ‘blog‘ was still a nascent buzzword, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams launched a service that would help propel blogging into the mainstream.
That service, Blogger, was acquired by Google in 2003, and a year later, Williams left to pursue new opportunities.
Under Google’s watch, Blogger has gone from one of the most popular self-publishing services on the internet to a has-been in a market that is now dominated by platforms and services like WordPress and Tumblr.
In fact, according to the figures compiled by Web Technology Surveys, WordPress controls nearly 55% of the blogging market. Blogger? Less than 3% of blogs are now hosted on the once-prominent service.
While Blogger certainly isn’t crucial to Google’s core business, the company must have some disappointment over Blogger’s decline. After all, blogging is an important market, and many blogs are monetized by Google AdSense.
But unlike some of Google’s other acquisitions which went into decline after the search giant took the reigns, Google hasn’t shuttered Blogger. In fact, it’s still investing in its development.
Yesterday, Google announced a significant makeover to Blogger. The goal: make it a more competitive tool. To that end, Google has “streamlined [the] blogging experience“, making it easier to add or edit posts from any screen, providing a more spacious editor, and overhauling the Blogger dashboard.
Intentional or not, Blogger’s “fresh new look” doesn’t look all that fresh if you’re familiar with WordPress. Just as some suggested that Google used Facebook as inspiration for its Google+ design, it would appear that some parts of the Blogger refresh were inspired by WordPress.
Unfortunately for Google, it’s questionable as to whether using other, more successful products for inspiration will make its products any more compelling over the long haul, particularly in the blogging space.
Blogger has languished for so long, and given the traction other platforms and services have been able to gain, it would appear that Google’s latest blogger changes are a case of too little, too late.
The lesson for big companies that buy popular consumer internet services: it’s easier to turn wine into water than it is to restore wine from vinegar.
Keeping a successful product successful post-acquisition requires continued investment, and it necessitates true innovation, not copycatting. Here, Google’s handling of YouTube provides a much more instructive case study of how to age a fine consumer internet wine properly.